Culinary New Years Goals

So, it’s the beginning of a new year and everyone is making New Year’s resolutions and setting goals. In the past I’ve skipped the whole, “new year, new me” pledge because deep down inside I knew that I wasn’t going to follow through with anything on my list for any substantial amount of time. This year, however, I changed things up and set a few goals for myself. Personally, I decided that I would read at least one book a month (I’ve started with a Harry Potter book. I’m a big kid, I know! Honestly, the older I get the more I love HP!!) and I’ve decided to challenge myself to go out more.

In addition to setting a few personal goals, I also set a few culinary goals. I’ve decided that I want to become a stronger baker, learn to make pasta and expand my culinary repertoire to include some culturally diverse dishes. I went to the library (hint-hint: a library is a great place in general, but a lot of libraries have a ton of great cookbooks. You can check out as many as you want and keep them for an extended amount of time. It’s a great way to make recipes from of the best and most popular books without spending a ton of money) and randomly found this cookbook entitled, “Persiana”. All of the recipes seem great and packed full of spices and flavors. I’ve decided to start my culinary exploration with Middle Eastern food and I can’t way to make a ton of recipes out of that book.

New Year’s resolutions are always challenging to keep, whether they are personal goals, professional goals or culinary goals. I think the key to sticking with them to choose small goals and to not beat yourself up when you, “fall off the wagon”. So here’s to those of us who have set goals for 2019! May we try a little harder, push ourselves a little more and reach our goals!

This was my first attempt at making pasta. The pictures turned out great, but the pasta…not so much. It kind of all fell apart when I started to cook them. I’m determined to make good pasta this year!
I want to make the PERFECT pound cake!

Cheesy Thyme Semolina Bread

Hey There,

A couple of months ago, I decided that I wanted to become an expert bread maker. I made dozens of rolls, biscuits, and loaves of bread and I can confidently say that after much practice and a ton of trial and error that I am still nowhere close to being considered an expert baker. LOL. I am not sure that I can even be considered a decent bread maker. Making bread is an art and a science that I have yet to master. No matter how much time and care I take, I always seem to get some aspect of the recipe wrong. I either kneed the dough too long, add too much water, under proof my bake or underbake it. Sometimes, I just get so frustrated but for some reason, I am always willing to try again. For me, I feel that baking bread is one of those “old-fashioned” skills that every good home cook should know how to do. I mean, you definitely can be a great cook without knowing how to make bread but I just think that it is a great skill to have.

Now, while making bread is still a real struggle, I have been able to find some recipes that usually work for me. While scrolling through Instagram one day, I ran across Alexandra Stafford’s page and instantly became hooked. I ran out and bought her book, Bread Toast Crumbs and ever since then I have been whipping up somewhat decent loaves of bread. Now while her recipes are perfect, I am not, so sometimes I still manage to mess them up but for the most part, they turn out great. Her methods are easy and uncumbersome and most of her recipes are made by following the same 5-6 steps, which I like. I would highly recommend this book for beginning bakers.

So, last night as I was going through my refrigerator I noticed that I had an insane amount shredded cheese on hand so I decided to use it to make cheese bread.  I ended up combining Alexandra’s recipe for Cheesy Cheddar and Parmigiano Bread and Rosemary Semolina Bread with Pine Nuts. I also made a few substitutions to the recipe.  Basically, I made used the Cheesy Bread recipe but substituted a half of cup of regular flour for a half of cup of semolina flour. In addition, I used fresh thyme instead of Rosemary and I used a variety of shredded cheeses including, mozzarella, a Mexican cheese blend, and a taco cheese blend. In the end, the bread turned out great. I must say, this turned out to be one of my more successful baking experiences.

If you are interested in making this recipe or if you are just interested to learn how to make bread then check out Bread, Toast, Crumbs. Also, if you already have this book or are just an expert bread maker, please share with me your favorite bread recipe. I would love to give it a try.

See Ya,

~ Samantha J.

cheesethymebread7cheesethymebread1cheesethymebread8cheesethymebread5cheesethymebread4